The County Commissioners in Orange County, Florida have put big box stores into the deep freeze — for at least a year. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the Commissioners voted 6-1 in late March to freeze superstore approvals until new zoning rules are written to control traffic impacts, and address noise and other issues. The moratorium affects any proposal larger than 75,000 s.f. During the moratorium, the county will se up a Task Force of nine members to rewrite the rules for superstore developments. The task force will be chaired by one of the Commissioners, and will examine issues such as traffic, store design, lighting, and hours of operation. The idea of a size cap on buildings will also be part of the study. Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty proposed the moratorium about a month ago, warning that a delay in the moratorium would give developers a chance to apply quickly apply for approval. The moratorium puts a proposed 193,000 s.f. Wal-Mart in the county on ice.
This is a great first step victory for local residents, and it is very clear that citizen pressure led to the moratorium. As Mayor Crotty told the Sentinel, “Let’s be blunt: Five hundred e-mails gets your attention pretty quickly. The public needs to be heard.”